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Timber Talk 2/3/13

Posted By John Dorka, Tuesday, February 4, 2014

2014 OFA Annual Meeting, March 5-6, Columbus Sheraton Hotel on Capitol Square
Meeting and registraion information can be found on the OFA website. There have been some changes in the agenda so be sure to check the schedule of events. Those staying overnight at the Sheraton have until February 12, 2012 to register and get the meeting rates. We are encouraging members to contact their individual legislators to invite them to the reception and more information will be coming to you soon about the reception. In the meantime, you can find contact information for your legislators on the annual meeting page of the website.

State/Federal News

Senate Approves Plan for ODA to Regulate Agricultural Fertilizer Applicators - Last week, the Senate approved Sub. SB 150 is intended to improve water quality in Ohio and help reduce algae problems from widespread nutrient runoff on Ohio’s agricultural lands. The bill will require that farmers and others who apply fertilizers would have to be trained and certified, much the same as pesticide applicators are trained and certified now. Training for the certified applicators will focus on the use of best management practices. The Ohio Farm Bureau and the Ohio Farmers Union testified in support of the measure and there were no opponents as the measure was passed. The Ohio Farm Bureau acknowledged however that this effort will be "massive” and additional funding will be needed to carry out the program. ODA, OSU Extension and Soil and Water Districts will all be involved in the program. The bill modifies the Agricultural Pollution Abatement Laws which apply to both agriculture and silviculture operations, but the new law is specific to farming operations.

HB 375, Oil and Gas Severance Tax Proposal - The House Ways and Means Committee is now hearing HB 375 which would increase the severance tax oil and gas operations in Ohio, in particular create a new tax on horizontal wells. One of the big issues of discussion is what would happen to the revenues raised by the tax increase. A recent hearing involved numerous interested parties who testified that some of the revenues raised should be returned to local governments to assist with managing the local impacts of the extraction activities and other infrastructure needs. There has been some industry support for increasing the tax, and at the hearing Michael Moore, the CFO of Gulfport Energy Corporation testified that he agreed the tax revenue needs to be shared with local governments. He acknowledged that southeastern Ohio has experienced boom and bust cycles over the last two centuries because of its reliance on natural resources like "lumber, coal, oil, and natural gas.” He supported some portion of the revenues being returned to the region. The current proposal calls for a tax increase on horizontal wells at the rate of 1% on net proceeds for the first 5 years, and then 2% until production on the well declines, when it would go back to 1%. (Current rate is $0.10 per barrel of oil and $0.25 per 1000 cubic feet of gas.) The Ohio Oil and Gas Association estimated that the amount of revenue raised over the next 10 years according to the proposed formula will be $2.07 billion and that this estimate is conservative based on an assumption of 1,000 new wells drilled each year for the next 10 years. The Association also defended the "net proceeds” formula to the tax which some have already opposed on the basis industry would unfairly deduct costs from revenue estimates. In other news, Sen. President Keith Faber said last week that he thought the severance tax should be handled as part of a larger tax reform effort proposed by Governor Kasich in the Mid-Biennium Review slated for later in the spring session.

Ohio Department of Agriculture Invasive Plant Regulatory Authority - The Senate Agriculture Committee approved a bill (SB 192) last week to give the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) exclusive authority to regulate invasive species. The bill was proposed over concern that local communities, park districts and other organizations have been trying to define species as invasive at the local level. The authority in this bill gives ODA full regulation of that concern.

Federal Wind Power Tax Credit Ended at the Close of the Year -  A tax credit that gave wind power developers a 2.3 cent tax credit on each Kwh of energy from wind turbines expired December 31 and it is unclear whether it will be renewed by Congress, although a number of proponents believe that there is bi-partisan support for the credit and believe that it will be renewed. There has been interest in Congress to overhaul the federal tax code and some believe that if that effort continues, the renewable energy credit could be included.

Farm Bill Passed - The House passed the Farm Bill (251-166) last week and it contained a number of key forestry components including:

  • Adopted the most important items from the Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act which will permanently bar EPA placing logging roads and silvicultural activity under the Clean Water Act NPDES stormwater permit system;
  • Protected the inclusion of forest products in preferred labeling and procurement for the USDA Bio-based Program;
  • Changes in the Forest Inventory and Analysis Program (FIA) that will require the Secretary of Agriculture to revise the strategic plan for FIA and to add information on gathering more information on forest landowners as well as more detail on supply projections;
  • Maintained and strengthened a host of incentives for forest landowners especially in the Conservation Stewardship Program;
  • Maintained a focus on programs to protect against invasive species.

You can see a convenient summary comparison of various versions of the Farm Bill (House passed, Senate Passed and Conference Committee passed) on the Tree Farm website. Of Ohio’s delegation, 15 voted on the Farm bill, with 11 for and 4 against. (You can see how the Ohio delegation voted here.) Vote Now that it has passed the House, the Farm Bill will go to the Senate for approval, which could be voted on very soon.

Ohio Maple Syrup Production
I think many of us know that Ohio is one of the leading maple syrup producing states in the country. There are 12 maple syrup producing states in the country and generally Ohio ranks 4th or 5th in annual production. In 2013, it ranked 5th with the production of 155,000 gallons of maple syrup, which was significantly higher than 2012.

20 Leading U.S. Companies Remove Anti-Paper Green Claims
Two Sides U.S., Inc., a global initiative by companies in the graphic communication value chain including forestry, pulp, paper, inks, chemicals, press, printing, publishing, and direct mail, recently announced that over 20 leading U.S. companies have stopped using "anti-paper” green claims that have been used to promote electronic billing and other e-services as environmentally beneficial alternatives to paper. The decisions are the result in large part by Two Sides efforts to make companies aware of the unsubstantiated and erroneous claims that using paper is an environmentally unfriendly practice. Two Sides promotes the green nature of forest products and that use of these products should be an environmental choice. You can read the news release from Two Sides here.

Wood Cars Again?
The original Ford Motor Company "Woodie” was a unique car that introduced the American public to the station wagon concept. Use of wood in and on American cars did not last long, but it appears that there may be a new trend back to use of wood and wood fiber products once again in car manufacturing. A number of automakers in the U.S. and around the world are looking seriously at using wood once again in cars, but in ways not imagined 50 or more years ago. Here is an interesting article in that talks about a number of efforts to use wood and wood fiber components in cars.

Managing Forested Wetlands Workshop
ON March 27, 2014, OSU Extension is offering a one-day workshop on Managing Forested Wetlands at Lake Hope State Park Lodge and Zaleski State Forest. The workshop is designed for forestry and natural resource professionals who deal with forest wetland issues. The workshop is free but requires advance registration by sending an email to the Dave Apsley ( Here is a flyer on the workshop.

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